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Mantecans novel at bookstores, online
FENNELL--Pic 1 copy
Manteca author Robert Fennell shows a screener copy of his first book Obsessed with Money about a Manteca private detective that follows a missing woman to the reaches of Texas. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Move over Sam Spade.

There’s a new private detective in town. Literally.

Last week Robert Fennell’s new book – “Obsessed with Money” – became available at the nation’s largest bookstores and digital carriers and tells the story of Robert Esquire, a private investigator from Manteca that takes the case of a newly-wealthy family trying to find their daughter that recently disappeared.

It’s the first published work for the retiree from The Family City who decided to take up writing it on a whim and turned the idea for the book into a published paperback in just over a year – sticking to the age-old method of scribbling down while listening to music on his back porch and them transcribing them later into digital copy.

“The hardest part was remembering all of the characters and the ending of it – how I wanted the book to end,” said Fennell – who has lived in Manteca since 1991 and has worked as a real estate agent, substitute teacher and community resources officer in his time following his enlistment in the United States Army. “I really enjoyed working with the publisher and the editors and getting it all to where it needed to be – where everything fell into place.

“It was a great experience and now I’m just hoping that I can find a core to continue with other ideas that I have in my head.”

Fennell said that he had the idea to write the book – which is about private investigator Robert Esquire and his pursuit of Jennifer Henry after the heiress to a California Lottery fortune disappears after a highlife night with her moneyed friends – in April of 2014, and worked through his vacation to keep the writing bug alive.

Set in both Manteca and at points along the way to Beaumont, Texas – Fennell’s hometown – we learn about the case, the investigator and the family that came into a fortune.

“First I had to decide whether this was going to be a cross-country kind of chase against the suspect and the villain – whether we’d stay in one place or travel to another state. “That’s where I was born and my family still resides, so the biggest part was trying to get the logistics between California and Beaumont and try to keep everything moving and have role play among the characters.

“I had to keep two plot points moving at the same time so that was pretty challenging, but it was fun.”

Fennell is currently retired and is hoping to gain traction in the literary world before he continues with other writing plans. He said he has ideas for other books and stories, but wants to wait to see how his book fares amongst crime and mystery enthusiasts.

Copies of the book are available online at Barnes and Noble and at Amazon, and paperback copies are also available.

“It was an enjoyable process – most of the time I go out on my patio and sit and I’ll have the radio on and write everything out on paper before I transfer the ideas to the computer,” he said. “That gives me a chance to skip ahead and not forget some of the ideas that I have on where things go.

“I hope people enjoy it. .